The U.S. Census Bureau reports that about one in five people in the United States has a disability. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, then you want to do everything in your power to protect that child. Unfortunately, you may not always be around to provide the care and support that child needs. As unpleasant as that is, it is a fact. Taking action now can ensure your child’s financial needs will be met even if you are not around to take care of them.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income is designed for individuals, including children, who are blind, disabled or over the age of 65. In addition to these requirements, you must also be a U.S. citizen residing in the United States, and you must not have been absent from the country for a consecutive 30 days. According to the Social Security Administration, SSI is different from Social Security benefits in that SSI benefits:
- are not based on your work history
- are financed by the U.S. Treasury general funds
- allow beneficiaries to receive government-funded insurance such as Medicaid
- allow beneficiaries to receive a supplemental payment in addition to SSI
- may also provide eligibility for food assistance
If you are interested in other funding sources for your child, check out this list put together earlier this week.
Special Needs Trust
The U.S. government’s policy is to provide the most basic needs of the person with a disability. A special needs trust can be set up to provide extra money that will add to the quality of life of the recipient. When setting up a special needs trust, you will need to consider a few factors including:
- your child’s condition
- the amount of future care your child will need
- your child’s ability to remain independent
- Some assets, including insurance policies and investment and retirement accounts you have access to
- assembling a team to help you put in place a special needs trust
There is no minimum amount that you need to start a special needs trust. Many financial advisors suggest you place at least $100,000 in the trust due to the cost of setting up and maintaining the trust. An article published by CNBC states that funds can come from several different sources such as family assets, inheritances, lawsuit awards and life insurance policies.
You will also need to think about how the funds will be disbursed and who will be responsible for the disbursement. Since income limits apply to most types of government assistance, a payment made directly to your child once they are an adult could affect those benefits.
You want the best for your child now and in the future. Obtaining SSI benefits for your child and assembling a special needs trust can be a confusing process. For that reason, it is wise to consult an experienced attorney who can help you sort through the maze of applications and requirements. Receiving expert legal advice now can ensure your child is well taken care of, not only while you’re able to provide care and support, but even after you are gone. Knowing this can give you much-needed peace of mind and allow you to focus on your child.
Michael Monheit, Esq is one of the founding lawyers of Monheit Law, P.C. where they are dedicated to the protection of individual rights. The firm specializes in birth injury, brain damage, brachial plexus injuries, negligence and malpractice lawsuits.